Monday, October 2, 2017

Tradition or TruthSometimes individual are so wed to tradition that they will condemn biblical practices as if they are upholding God’s word!  The guilty believe they are sound in the faith!  They believe they are condemning the doctrine of the devil.  What they are guilty of is defending tradition and rejecting the Bible!  Recently a writer charged some had abandoned the “plea for unity based in the New Testament.”  After reading his charges, my question was, “What have some abandoned that the New Testament teaches”?  The problem was not that he wasn’t right in some of what he said, it was because he included two items which did not fit his charge!

He stated, “They change the plan of worship revealed in the New Testament (Jn.4:24) for ‘a celebration’ with lifting of hands, swaying, . .” (Emphasis mine, RH).  He includes, “lifting hands” and “swaying, and impresses upon his readers that those who practice those two, are as guilty of changing “the plan of worship revealed in John 4:24″ as the other items mentioned.  A study will show he has ventured into speculation on those two items.  For example, when Paul wrote to Timothy, he said, “I will therefore that men everywhere, LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).  Most believe Paul is describing the public worship assembly!  For some, that command does not fit our established tradition of keeping our hands at our sides!  The author believes “lifting of hands” is changing “the plan of worship revealed in the New Testament (Jn.4:24).”  The truth is, we cling to our manmade traditions and justify our actions by denying Paul’s divine instruction!  Some claim the practice began in the late nineteenth century with a specific group!  No, it was a practice which Paul shows to be right, when they do so without wrath and doubting.  The “without wrath and doubting” was also bound upon women (v.9a).

Who is at fault in changing “the plan of worship revealed in the New Testament”?  It wasn’t Paul nor the Holy Spirit.  Paul was inspired to give the apostolic command for men praying everywhere.  The ones who are attempting to change that “plan of worship revealed in the New Testament” are those who condemn the biblical practice of “lifting up holy hands”!

The writer also condemned “swaying.”  Since he does not define “swaying,” one is left to guess at his meaning.  Was he talking about the swaying of “holy hands” that were being lifted up?  If we had a definition, we would have the means of comparing his condemnation with God’s word.  If it isn’t there, then he is trying to bind his convictions, based upon his opinion, rather than upon God’s word!  Regardless of his scholarship, his opinions nor judgments equal the word of God.  In fact, he practices the very thing he is condemning!  He condemns a biblical practice and substitutes his tradition in its place and wants us to believe his replacement is God’s truth (1 John 4:1).

It is interesting that he refers to “The plan of worship revealed in the New Testament (Jn.4:24).”  Yet there is nothing in the second covenant which speaks of a “plan of worship.”  John 4:24 states, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”  The expression “the plan of worship” is not in that verse, nor any other that I am aware of.  In fact, why wouldn’t 1 Timothy 2:8 be included in what is classified as “spirit and in truth”?  Paul, an inspired apostle, commanded it and most believe it was done in the first century church’s public worship assembly?

The author believes “swaying” is an “appeal to the emotions instead of the Bible heart.”  Here again, no definition is giving, even to explain what he means by “the Bible heart.”  He refers to it as an “appeal to the emotions.” Of course, the audience may only be keeping time to the beat of the song.  I wonder, “is the Bible heart” which he mentions, emotionless?  That impression is given, although it may not have been his intent.  When Thomas answered Jesus with, “My Lord and my God,” was it without emotion (John 20:28)?  Did he make that statement with or without the Bible heart?  Does the author think “the Bible heart” is void of all emotion?  I suppose the worship he referred to “in spirit and in truth” in John 4:24 is completely empty of such?  Is he implying that any sign of emotion would mark that person as one who is not in possession of “the Bible heart”!  I guess that would mean no finger or foot tapping is allowed while keeping time to a song?  Why?  Perhaps it is too emotional?  Neither must the song leader wave his hand to keep time?  Too emotional?  Perhaps when baptizing, the preacher is forbidden to raise one hand prior to immersing the candidate and saying, “I baptize you in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins”?  Anyone responding to the invitation must not shed a single tear because that’s an emotion!  One’s voice cannot have the slightest hint of cracking while talking about God’s love and grace, nor it being displayed while speaking about the cross?  When men immerse themselves in tradition, opinion, and human judgment, the rules that flow from their “emotions,” displays man’s foolishness.

Tradition and culture often become our scripture, rather than a “thus saith the Lord.”  Human opinion often substitutes itself as the truth.  Is it?